Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The NHS Has a Special Machine to Prolong This Woman's Life. It Just Can't Afford to Use It; ANGER OF BREAST CANCER PATIENT FACING DEATH AS TREATMENT IS DENIED

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The NHS Has a Special Machine to Prolong This Woman's Life. It Just Can't Afford to Use It; ANGER OF BREAST CANCER PATIENT FACING DEATH AS TREATMENT IS DENIED

Article excerpt

Byline: NILUFER ATIK

THIS woman is dying from cancer but cannot be treated because the NHS does not have the money to turn on a machine.

Janet McLeod has breast cancer. The one chance to prolong her life depends on unique equipment at Hammersmith Hospital.

The [pounds sterling]200,000 machine - the only unit of its kind in Britain - has the power to destroy tumours which cannot be treated in the standard way.

But in a case which reopens the debate about NHS funding, the 63-year-old has been told she cannot be treated because there are not enough staff or funds to operate the machine.

As time runs out for Mrs McLeod - and a string of other patients who could benefit - the machine is lying idle.

The former journalist told the Standard today: "I am angry with the Government. It makes me angry to see Cherie Blair promoting herself as the face of a breast cancer charity whilst her husband is back at the ranch making sure I can't live because I have breast cancer.

"I have now been put on a waiting list but I don't have time to wait for the hospital to find the funds or the staff to operate it. I am dying, I have run out of time."

Mrs McLeod, who lives in Wandsworth, South West London, with her husband Ian, a retired Army officer, was diagnosed twoanda-half years ago.

Her plight comes to light on the day England, Scotland and Wales are shown to be lagging behind in terms of survival rates.

Ironically, health chiefs responded to the league tables by claiming huge improvements had been made since the research was carried out, saying today's cancer patients "are diagnosed and treated using the most modern equipment".

Although Mrs McLeod underwent intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the cancer spread to other parts of her body.

Doctors at the Royal Marsden Hospital told her the only hope was hyperthermic radiotherapy - in which tumours are attacked with a combination of powerful X-rays and intense heat. She was referred to the Hammersmith Hospital, the only NHS hospital with the equipment, but when the mother-of-three arrived for her appointment, managers told her the unit was "out of service". …

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